JOYCE MAHON NICHOLSON
JUNE 2, 1934- JULY 24, 2021
Our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, great-aunt, and friend, Joyce Mahon Nicholson, age 87, passed away peacefully of natural causes at home in her daughter Darcy's arms. A longtime resident of Santa Fe, Joyce was a renaissance woman who loved higher consciousness, music, art, culture, and people. Her engagement and drive to lead and inspire others were visible in many ways throughout her community as a role model, teacher, artist, athlete, musician, volunteer, organizer, and director in multifaceted areas of her interests. Always challenging herself to grow, at the time of her death, Joyce was an advisor to the Santa Fe Symphony on their Honorary Council, busy writing creative stories of her life, publishing a children's book with the help of her daughter Jamie, and doing "laps" around her home with her walker. Born in Pasadena, CA, and raised on a 22-acre farm in McMinnville, OR, Joyce obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon in Education in 1955 and a graduate degree from Stanford in Early Childhood Development in 1956.
In her youth, she loved to ride horses and was a competitive swimmer with the Multnomah Athletic Swim Club. She worked as a teacher of grades 6, 7, 8, and 9. She married Dr. William J. Nicholson in 1957; they lived first in Seattle and then in Ridgewood, NJ, where she raised four children. Joyce competed on Master swim teams in NJ and Senior Olympics in NM. Active in politics as a Democratic fundraiser and organizer, Joyce was passionate about issues of peace, the environment, feminism, social justice, and civil rights. She filled her home with African art, not just for its beauty but also to educate her children in African culture and to honor people of color. As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Joyce viewed 'God' as love, forgiveness, and kindness. As her eldest daughter and niece suffered from type 1 diabetes, Joyce was motivated to serve as executive director of her local chapter of the American Diabetes Association
In 1990, after her last child left home for college, Joyce car camped out to Santa Fe alone to begin her new life there- as a volunteer at the Wheelright Museum, a board member of the Santa Fe Symphony, and a job at an antique tribal art gallery on the Plaza. In the mid-nineties, Joyce became the President of the Symphony Board and helped to guide them through a difficult transition. During the next 3 decades in Santa Fe, Joyce continued to work with indigenous art at various galleries, volunteer with the Folk Art Market, the Symphony Cooking Chorus, Women's Voices, and as a moderator with the Council for International Relations. She routinely swam 2 miles of laps at the Chavez Center. A devoted pianist, Joyce also performed as a vocalist with the Symphony Chorus. She became a neon sculpture artist and opened her home as a gallery to showcase her colorful designs.
She is best remembered by her friends as a joyful, beautiful woman who loved to laugh, dance, sing, play music, and always lending a kind ear. She is best remembered by her children for instilling in them humanitarian values of seeing all people as equal and part of one human family.
Joyce was preceded in death by her eldest daughter, Jan Nicholson, and her niece, Ann. Mourning her loss is her daughter Jamie Nicholson-Leener, her son David Nicholson, her daughter Darcy Nicholson, her granddaughter Jesse Leener, her brother, Hal and his wife Sylvia, her nephew Keith and niece Marlise, and many great-nephews and nieces.
A memorial service will be planned at the Unitarian Church in Santa Fe possibly for late May 2022 when it will be safe to gather. Donations can be made to the American Diabetes Association
Published by Santa Fe New Mexican from Aug. 28 to Aug. 29, 2021.